The packing list for a girls weekend getaway to Ocean City, Maryland usually includes a bikini or two, a lot of wine and artichokes. Wait, artichokes?
Ok, maybe that’s not the first thing you toss into your bag when taking a trip, but 6 girls at a fake bachelorette party cannot live on grapefruit crushes alone. And as soon as our travel plans were nailed down I started to obsess over when we’d hit up Seacrets and what snacks I could make for a half-dozen tipsy women.
These crispy frizzled artichokes from Smitten Kitchen looked like the perfect accompaniment to an endless parade of cocktails. So I dutifully schlepped a bag of artichokes to our condo in Ocean City and then when the weekend was over I pitifully dragged the still full bag back home to Baltimore.
What I didn’t account for was that never ending drinks and late-night gossip sessions on the beach didn’t leave much time for prepping artichokes. That weekend we lived off of bagged salad, deli turkey, and I alone ate my weight in Cool Ranch Doritos.
Cooking from scratch in a barely equipped kitchen was not going to happen. What we needed was a make-ahead that would easily reheat and go great with jello shots. I blame Cara for those.
I’m not sure about the jello shot pairing but braised artichoke hearts with a swig of wine and a shower of chopped olives and lemon goes well with any girls night or weekend.
Most of the hard work with braised artichokes is up front. You need to strip the outer leaves, being careful not prick yourself on the sharp ends, and then dig out the hairy chokes before reaching the pale tender hearts. It’s tedious work and often feels like the pile of trash is bigger than the edible yield but I implore you to push through. Canned artichoke hearts are easier but breaking down the babies yourself will get you something tastier.
Once you make your way through what seems like a mountain of artichokes leaves and feathery chokes, the hearts are seared in a hot pan with shallots and garlic. I like to get the edges nicely browned and then deglaze the pan with some dry white wine.
You only need a little bit, save the rest to guzzle down with dinner. This is less messy than a night out in Ocean City but you should still enjoy your girls night.
To bump up the soon-to-be braise a handful of chopped tomatoes and pitted olives make their way into the pan. Then enough chicken stock is added to almost cover the artichoke hearts. You cover the whole thing and then let it simmer for a half hour until the hearts are tender and the liquid has reduced and thickened.
I treat this dish like mussels, make sure you ladle the braised artichokes and lots of the liquid into shallow bowls and go at it with crusty bread. You’ll need the carby bread to soak up the wine that you’ve been pouring all night for your best girl friends.
- 2 lemons
- 3 medium artichokes
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 large shallot or small onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup grape tomatoes
- Handful pitted chopped olives
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- Fill a large bowl of water with cool water and squeeze the juice from one of the lemons into the water.
- To break down the artichokes: Pull off the dark green outer leaves of the artichokes, be careful not the hurt yourself on the sharp ends. Cut off the top half of the artichoke and then divide the artichoke into four quarters. With a small paring knife or grapefruit spoon scoop out the hairy chokes. Trim and peel the stem of the artichoke to get to the pale green center, it has the same taste as the heart. Drop the cleaned artichoke hearts into the lemon water to keep them from browning as you make your way through the rest of the artichokes.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter.
- Add the artichoke hearts and brown on each side.
- Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and cook until softened. Then add the wine and cook until reduced by half.
- Lower heat to medium low and add tomatoes, olives and enough chicken stock to nearly cover the hearts. For me this was about 1 ½ cups.
- Cover and cook for 30 minutes until hearts are tender and liquid has thickened. Add the juice from the remaining lemon to brighten everything up.
- Serve with crusty bread to soak up braising liquid.